Genny Lim 

California, US

Genny Lim is a native San Franciscan poet, performer, playwright, educator and cultural activist whose artistic vision strives to express the uniqueness and universality of her experience as the child of immigrant Chinese, deeply engaged in the civil rights and Asian American arts movement since the early 1970s. Her work has always been deeply informed by her commitment to social justice issues on many fronts. Her two books of poetry, Winter Place (1989, Kearny Street Workshop) and Child of War (2003, Kalamaku Press) have been widely recognized for defining a distinctive Asian American voice in the Bay Area and international literary landscape. Her award-winning play about Angel Island immigrants, Paper Angels aired on American Playhouse in 1995 and the anthology she co-authored, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, brought national attention to institutional racism against immigrants. Bitter Cane, a second play set in the Hawaiian sugar plantations of the 1920s, has also been published and performed nationally and overseas. She also been commissioned to create a libretto for Jon Jang’s Immigrant Suite; and poetry for Francis Wong’s, Shanghai 1948. Her work has been featured on the PBS series, The United States of Poetry; and KQED's feature, San Francisco Chinatown.

Ah-I walk with a gun, 
With a gun to my heart, with a gun to my head, 
with a gun to my heart to kill, 
To kill with a gun, my hurt, 
To kill with my hurt, a gun 

I speak like the many-mouthed bird, 
Like the many-mouthed bird with words 
that fly, that sting, in all directions, 
That fly like the winds, that fly like bullets, 
like bullets into the proud flesh of my youth, 
into the proud flesh of my wound, my womb, my wound 

Himsa - the wish to kill, the wish to kill 
The wish to behead this rage in me 
This he, not me; this she, not me 
This white buffalo of hate, this black brick of my heart 
My heart, which I remember 
My heart, which I dismember 
My heart which I bequeath to death 
My heart, which I bequeath to reason 
and to the empty orgasms of power 


To love with action, to act with love 
Towards all, towards all 
Animal, vegetable and human 
Ahimsa, Ahimsa, Ahimsa 

To Rosa Parks and Birmingham Sunday 
To Malcolm X and Martin Luther King 
To Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama 
To Rigoberta Menchu and Mother Theresa 
To Thich Nat Han and Mahatma Gandhi 
To Ang San Syu Kyi 
We give truth to guard eternally 

Ah-I walk with a gun, 
With a gun to my heart, With a gun to my head, 
With a gun to my heart, With a gun to my head, 
To kill my hurt, to hurt my kill 
Because I am the many-mouthed bird, 
The many-mouthed bird, whose name will be 



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